I attended a school band concert yesterday evening featuring the local school’s various orchestras 6th grade through high school. Admittedly I went primarily as an excuse for another photo opportunity, to see what I could do under new (horrible) light conditions with each of my lenses. But I received much more than that.
The bands played their hearts out. Each of them performed admirably, and it’s no coincidence that our school’s band program at all levels is recognized throughout the state for its excellence. The music I was privileged to experience from these young people was exhilarating and warming, happy and heart-rending.
As for the camera work, I have come to respect that still photography of a band concert is at best a difficult proposition. Any given photograph could just as easily be from a warm-up exercise as a full performance. There is visually little to distinguish one from the other. At any given moment the conductor’s arms are raised, the instruments are lifted.
It took a few numbers, but I realized the telephoto lens was my friend here. Close-ups were the order of the day. It’s not, after all, the music I’m trying to capture, or even the performance of it. The story here is the complete dedication of the performers to their art, the intensity with which they throw themselves into it, the determination to devote everything they have into doing the best that they can during those precious moments when music is the language shared by them and their audience.